If you still use Windows 7 because you don’t like Windows 10, that’s understandable. But there is an alternative upgrade path: You can install Linux on a PC for free, and you will have a supported operating system that is still getting updates.
This is easier than you think. You can try Linux on your PC before installing it, and you can even install it with Windows 7 when you jump. Here’s what you need to know.
A Real Alternative for Windows 7
In 2020, Linux works much better than you think. Especially if you have an old PC running Windows 7, your hardware will be well supported and “only work” without fiddling with. You might have to install hardware drivers for maximum gaming performance, but that’s usually the case.
After you install Linux, you can install a web browser of your choice: Most Linux distributions come with Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome is also available. You have full access to the web, including streaming websites like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney +.
Free and open-source Linux distribution. They are supported with automatic security updates, and you don’t need antivirus software – be careful not to download and run strange software or run strange commands, like you do on other operating systems.
You Can Dual Boot and Leave Windows 7 Installed
Even if you install Linux, you don’t have to leave Windows 7. You can install Linux in a dual-boot configuration. When you start your PC, you can choose which operating system you want to boot. If you need to go back to Windows 7 – for example, to play a game that doesn’t work on Linux – you can reboot to Windows 7.
It’s an easy way to dip your feet in the waters of Linux. You get a secure Linux operating system, and you can always boot back to Windows 7 for the occasional task that requires Windows.
Select Linux Distro and Create Media
Before you get started with Linux, you must choose a Linux distribution. We saw the best Linux distribution for beginners a few years ago, and the landscape is very similar today. Ubuntu is still a solid and well-supported choice. Many people recommend Linux Mint instead. Mint is based on Ubuntu – you can’t go wrong with both. We show screenshots of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS here.
After selecting the Linux distribution, download it, and create media directly. We recommend using a USB drive, but you can also burn the distribution of your choice to disk.
Before booting into Linux and installing it, you might want to back up your files first. It is always a good idea to have a backup of your important files.
Boot Media and Try Before Installing It
With the media created, you can now reboot your Windows 7 PC, select the media that you created as your boot device, and start using Linux. After booting, you can use Linux without installing it. It runs entirely from the USB drive or disk that you created. Linux isn’t actually installed on your PC until you click the “Install” option and go through the installation wizard.
This is also a great way to make sure all your hardware is functioning properly on Linux without any configuration. For example, you can verify that your Wi-Fi is functioning properly. If everything looks sequential, you know your hardware will function without messing around after you install Linux on your PC.
If you are using a newer PC that originally came with Windows 8 or 10, you might need to adjust the Safe Boot settings to boot your Linux distribution. However, a PC from the Windows 7 era will boot Linux properly without additional configuration.
Install Linux on your PC
If you want to install Linux, you can choose the installation option in a Linux environment directly to install it on your PC. For example, on Ubuntu, look at all the “Install Ubuntu” icons on the desktop. Double click, and you will get the installation guide.
Everything here will be very easy. When you go through the wizard, you can choose to install your Linux system with Windows 7 or delete your Windows 7 system and install Linux on it.
You will need free space to install Linux next to Windows unless you have a second hard drive. Reboot to Windows 7 and delete some files if you need more space.
If you install Windows 7 and Linux with each other, you can choose the operating system every time you boot your PC.
Warning: If you choose to delete your hard drive, all files and applications on your Windows 7 partition will also be deleted.
Install Software on Linux
Linux works a little differently than Windows, but it’s no different. If all you need is a modern web browser and some important utilities such as video players, image editors, and even the open-source LibreOffice office suite, everything you need may be installed out of the box.
For other software, you want to check the package management application on your Linux distribution. On Ubuntu, that’s the Ubuntu Software Center. Think of it like a one-stop “app store” for your Linux PC, unless it contains free open-source software. The applications that you install from here will be updated automatically along with your Linux distribution base software.
There are also applications that you can get from outside the package manager. For example, you might want to download applications like Google Chrome, Dropbox, Skype, Steam, Spotify, Slack, and Minecraft from the official website. However, most applications that you will use are open source software from the package manager.
There are many other things on Linux besides that, but the basics are very simple. The terminal is strong, but you don’t have to use it.
By 2020, a stable and secure operating system with a modern web browser and several useful utilities is needed by everyone. Linux offers it out of the box without additional tweaking. This is a great alternative to Windows 7.